This morning I had the privilege of meeting the General Manager of the Zenith Hotel, Jerina Foong, along with Assistant Director of Sales, Michelle Wong. Michelle was the first to meet us as we entered Zenith Hotel on this glum morning as the drizzle lightly fell to the earth. She had a very pleasant demeanour and welcomed us warmly as soon as we came through the doors. Before long, the vibrant Jerina joined us as we engaged in refreshing conversation about my promotion of the Zenith Hotel on my blog, which has caught the attention of a number of Zenith Hotel employees, like Jerina and Michelle.
Our guided tour of the Zenith Hotel soon began after I had the opportunity to ask several questions to Jerina about the Zenith Hotel. Luckily I had prepared a few questions and brought along some paper and a pen. I found it very easy to speak with both Jerina and Michelle, and they both gave detailed answers to my queries.
I first asked whether the Zenith Hotel will provide healthy competition with other hotels in Kuantan. Jerina responded that it's not as much 'competition' as it is 'working partners'. This is due to the fact that Zenith Hotel will be attracting a whole new market of people, and not necessarily be 'stealing' customers from other hotels. For the first few months at least, the main market will be local Malaysians. I came to learn from her remarks that the Sultan Ahmad Shah International Convention Centre (SASICC) will play a big role in attracting business to the Zenith Hotel, through various activities such as meetings and weddings.
One of the first questions I asked was the first question that is on most Malaysians lips - Why is the price of rooms so expensive? And how on earth is Zenith Hotel going to fill 500+ rooms at such rates? I discussed this with Michelle earlier, and then Jerina, and they both explained how the prices on the website www.thezenithhotel.com are merely the published prices which they have to show. The actual prices are likely to be reduced slightly and are subject to continual change according to amount of traffic and seasonal adjustments. I personally feel that when one has walked around Zenith Hotel and appreciated the quality and good service, they will gladly pay whatever the current price stands at.
I asked Jerina about the time scale of the construction of Zenith Hotel. She replied that Zenith Hotel is still as yet, far from finished. It is a great work in progress, with 10 floors expected to be opened and ready for occupancy by the end of January, with a more high-key opening planned for January 1st, 2011. She estimated that the Zenith Hotel will be fully completed by March 2011. I also took this moment to enquire concerning Menara Putra, the office block, and was informed that it will be complete by June 2011.
Today's soft opening is extremely low-key with only a fine dusting of visitors arriving, of which, I'm rather quite proud to say, I was the first! There are no reporters or government officials, which typifies the owner of Zenith Hotel, Dato' Seri Tew, who sat quietly at a distant table with a friend as I conducted my interview with Jerina. He also owns the nearby East Coast Mall.
Another question I asked was concerning the old flats situated behind East Coast Mall and the pink Health Officials Quarters just beside Zenith Hotel. There is nothing they can do about those particular flats, Jerina commented, as they are government property. However, there are plans in the pipeline for the old flats behind East Coast Mall to be demolished and the residents relocated to proper housing.
Jerina Foong, an avid runner, is a very well-spoken lady of 51, who looks more like 31, and speaks immaculate English, as does Michelle Wong, who originates from Kuching, Sarawak. Our conversation turned towards education and the importance of the English language, and my tuition classes here in Kuantan. We both agreed that English grammar is the absolute necessity and foundation of the language but sadly, is the weakest element of English amongst many Malaysians. It was a pleasure for me to be engaged in conversation with two people proficient in the English language, because it is an extremely rare occurrence, and a total delight when it does come!
The one big concern harboured by Jerina was the lack of support from the tourism ministry in promoting and advertising Zenith Hotel. We were both of the same mind that a lot, lot more could and should be done by the government in the way of tourism.
Zenith Hotel will be including a shuttle bus to Teluk Chempedak (TC), the popular beach on the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, a mere 10-15 minute drive from Kuantan town. The shuttle will be arriving on 31st December, 2010 and will drop off passengers at a number of tourist spots including TC, which are still being determined. Jerina understands that visitors don't just want to stay in a hotel during their holidays, but they need to get out and see things, so the shuttle is a way in which Zenith Hotel is fulfilling this need. Other places a little farther away are being considered too, with Sungai Lembing the most appealing of places.
The Zenith Hotel is opening slowly, step-by-step as it continues to work on finishing touches and preparing its staff, which is currently 200, for 5-star performance, which admittedly will take time and follow a trial and error format. However, after seeing the inside of Zenith Hotel for the first time this lunchtime, I have nothing but admiration for its structure and design and I gained a better understanding of its situation and striving to be recognised and profitable. The hotel industry after all, is a very sensitive industry, which can easily be affected by political unrest or health issues, so you can never be quite sure how successful it can be.
Let's all hope for the best and support this new development in Kuantan, which could be the start of a whole new line of hotels. Here are the pictures of my guided tour accompanied by Jerina Foong, General Manager, and Michelle Wong, Assistant Director of Sales
Jerina and Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to show us around, answer questions, and treat us to lunch! We very much look forward to a free night's stay at Zenith Hotel which you have graciously offered us in January 2011. We are very grateful for your generosity and kindness!
The men's toilet
The stairs are brilliantly illuminated in blue, primarily to help people see the steps as they are difficult to detect since they are made from the same marble
Lauren couldn't leave the stairs alone!
Like Beijing's Bird Nest Stadium, this wall separates the private rooms from the dining room without completely isolating them
Another private section
L-R: Jerina Foong, General Manager, Duncan, blogger, Michelle Wong, Assistant Director of Sales, Lauren, cute child, Fidelia, amazing wife and chemical engineering graduate
I will be back at the Zenith Hotel tonight to take some pictures of the hotel in all its nightly glory! Check my blog tomorrow for the pictures!
Please click the +1 button at the bottom of this post if you think it was a worthwhile read. It just takes a second and by doing this, the article will feature higher in Google searches so more people can come across it and discover useful information. Let's see how many times the +1 button can be clicked!